22.10.22: Healing

Context: Yesterday I woke late, and began to say my familiar morning prayers. Suddenly I saw how fragile we all are, and the profoundly damaging effects our experiences can have on our minds, hearts, souls and bodies. Then, this simple prayer immediately flowed:

How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! (Job 14:1; NLT). 

Lord,
Heal our fragile, injured minds –
Forgive our sins:
Help us to share.

Please heal our fragile, broken hearts –
Forgive our sins:
Help us to care.

Lord,
Heal our fragile, damaged souls –
Forgive our sins:
Help us to pray,

And heal our fragile, mortal flesh –
Forgive our sins:
Help us today.

Lord, help us! (Joel 1:19; NLT).


References

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone (James 4:14; NLT). 

He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him (Psalm 103:14-17; NLT).

Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name (Psalm 79:9; NLT). 

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7; NLT). 

21.10.22: Gifts

Context: Yesterday morning I prayed with words, then without, until I suddenly saw this little poem:

God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness (Job 19:8; NLT). 

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT). 

I give you my darkness,
My weakness and sin –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Failure, within.

I give you my loneliness,
Sickness and fears –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Mourning and tears.

I give you my sorrow,
My anguish and shame –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Longing and pain.  

I give you my suffering,
Body and blood,
My mind, heart and soul, Lord:
I give you my love. 

I will give you my love (Song of Songs, 7:12; NLT). 

17.10.22: Healing

Healing

A few days ago, on waking and starting to pray, I began thinking about how Jesus heals people in body, mind, heart and soul, according to their need. Here are a few examples from the New Testament:

  • Body: Jesus heals a man with a deformed hand  (Luke 6:6-10; NLT).
  • Mind: Jesus heals a man with a severe mental illness (Mark 5:1-19; NLT).
  • Heart: Jesus heals Paul’s hatred through a spiritual experience (Acts 9:1-20; NLT).
  • Soul: Jesus forgives a man’s sins (Matthew 9:2-7; NLT).

Then I saw that whilst all healing is a great blessing:

  • The healing of the mind is more important than the healing of the body
  • The healing of the heart is more important than the healing of the mind
  • And the healing of the soul is even more important than the healing of the heart

In fact, Jesus made it completely clear that our souls are infinitely more important than our bodies, minds and hearts when he said: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; NLT). Therefore, the healing of the soul is the most important healing of all.

Forgiveness

Our souls can only be healed through God’s forgiveness. As the psalmist said long ago: “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4; NKJV). Thus, when Jesus taught us how to pray, the vital petition: “Forgive us our sins,” was immediately followed by the words: “as we forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4; NLT).

He went on to explain why forgiving others is so  important: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15; NLT).

So, in order for us to be forgiven, and thus for our souls to be healed, we ourselves need to forgive those who sin against us. As I wrote these words yesterday, I suddenly glimpsed that forgiving others may be the deepest and most miraculous healing of all.

Of course, I’m not saying that forgiveness is easy. I know from painful, personal experience that it can take a lifetime to forgive those who have damaged us. However, with God all things are possible. Christ’s prayer for those who crucified him is our constant example: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34; NLT).

Pray for all souls

A little later, as this blog was coming together, I was given some electrifying words: Pray for the healing of all souls.

Instantly, I saw a whole, new realm of prayer and spiritual practice opening up before me, the implications of which I haven’t even begun to explore yet. It was as if I were being shown the most important task for the remainder of my life, a meaningful task I can carry out no matter how handicapped my body becomes.

Three stands of prayer

It quickly became clear that praying for the healing of all souls has at least three essential strands:

  • Asking God to help us all forgive those who have hurt us,
  • Asking God to forgive us all for our sins,
  • And asking God to restore our oneness with each other, and with God.

A daily prayer for the healing of all souls

As I embraced this idea, a simple prayer came into my mind:

Lord,
I pray for the healing of all souls.

Please help us all to forgive
Those who have sinned against us,

And forgive us all for the sins
We have committed against others,

So all souls are restored to unity
With one another, and with you.

I ask this through your dear Son’s name.
Amen.

He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3; NKJV).


References

The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; WEB).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT).

I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 5:23; CEV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).


Reading

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:19-22; NLT).

7.10.22: Here I am

Context: Yesterday I woke up very late. Whilst I lay still, praying without words and longing to see into my soul again, this prayer arrived:

Here I am. Did you call me? (1 Samuel 3:5; NLT). 

Here I am, Lord. Did you call me?
Speak: I long to hear your voice.

You are all in all to me, Lord,
Speak, for I have made my choice –

You’re my faith, my hope, my Saviour,
You’re my God, my great High Priest;

You’re my bread, my living water,
You’re my wine, my inner peace;

You’re my fire, my strength, my spirit,
You’re the light within my soul;

You’re my way, my truth, my life,
And you’re the One who makes me whole.

Jesus, though I’m weak and sinful,
You will come to set me free –

Speak; your servant, Lord, is listening,
And you’re everything to me.

Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:9; NIV).

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).


 Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; NIV.

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.

So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

6.10.22: God’s light

Context: I woke after a long, vivid dream about being on a bike-ride, and getting completely lost in the dark. As I surfaced, I began to say the Lord’s Prayer, but didn’t get very far…

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).

Suddenly, for the first time ever, I was looking directly into my soul. It was softly illuminated by God’s light, just as an oil lamp creates a pool of light in darkness. Previously, I’ve only seen my soul’s dark surface from the outside.

My soul seemed completely empty, but I couldn’t be sure of this because of the darkness beyond the pool of light. If it had any boundaries, they too were lost in the deep, surrounding shadows. This sight lasted no more than a few seconds, then it was over.

Afterwards, I wondered if this experience had really happened, or if I had imagined it. However, when I was saying grace before breakfast, I saw that not only is God light, but that all light is the light of God.

The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light (Revelation 21:23; NLT). 


References

Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).

Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:21; NLT).

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).

This, then, is the message we heard from Jesus and declare to you: God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5; TIB).

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places so that you may know that I am the Lord (Isaiah 45:3; CSB).

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12; NLT). 

2.10.22: I’m nothing

Context: Since my hospital trip to London, I’ve been feeling drained and empty. Prayer is almost impossible. All I can do is to wait, resting in God’s hands, knowing I’m nothing, and placing all my trust in God. Yesterday morning, when I tried to pray, this is what came to me:

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Lord God, I know I’m nothing.

The only thing that’s good about me is that your Spirit lives in my soul.

Without your help, I can do nothing, Lord; I can’t even pray. 

Without you, I’m spiritually dead, though my body lives on.

I’m in your hand. You alone give me life, breath and everything I need to stay alive. When you close your hand, I will die. 

No matter what happens, Lord, please help me to become more like your dear Son in everything I think, say and do.

I ask this in his holy name. Amen.


References

I am nothing (Job 49:4; NLT). 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NET).

Apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5; NLT).

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-7; NRSV).

I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead (Revelation 3:1; NLT).

The life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being (Job 12:10; NLT). 

When you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:28-9; NIV). 

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV). 

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17; NIV).

29.9.22: Love

Context: After my hospital trip to London I’m absolutely drained, so I’m particularly thankful for this short blog, which came to me a few days ago, whilst I was recovering from a migraine:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Mark 12:29; NIV).

One God, one Lord,
One Holy Ghost;

One faith, one hope,
One cup, one host;

One flesh, one mind,
One heart, one soul;

One origin,
One life, one goal.

Let love be your highest goal! (1 Corinthians 14:1; NLT). 

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT). 


References 

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called into one hope when you were called. There is one Savior, one faith, one baptism, one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:4-6; TIB). 

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; KJV).

YHWH fashioned an earth creature out of the clay of the earth, and blew into its nostrils the breath of life. And the earth creature became a living being (Genesis 2:7; TIB). 

God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth (Isaiah 42:5; NLT).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT).

26.9.22: Emotional healing

Context: I’m in London today, facing a battery of specialised medical tests. It’s only 5am, but I’m having a very early breakfast, as I have to fast for several hours before arriving at the hospital.

This blog considers how free-will, honesty and forgiveness contribute to emotional healing. Each of these factors builds on the one before, until healing is complete. This completion can take place progressively, during life, or instantaneously, at death, when we meet Christ face to face.

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18; NKJV). 

Introduction
Emotional healing is a lifelong process of personal growth in mind, heart and soul. It is brought about by revelation and personal insight, which gradually help us to change how we think, speak, behave and feel.

1. Free-will
Let’s begin with free-will. In order to be healthy, all personal change needs to be based on independent choice. Changes which are expected, required, demanded, imposed, or forced upon us by others can never bring about deep, inner healing.

2. Honesty
Similarly, if we try to make ourselves change in order to become an idealised version of ourselves, we are only suppressing how we honestly feel or think, and what we really want to say or do. This is a very unhealthy, incongruent and inauthentic way to live, which stores up further emotional problems for the future. There is no substitute for learning to speak the truth in love.

3. Forgiveness
Next comes forgiveness, another essential, inescapable aspect of inner healing. It can take years to feel forgiven for all the bad things we have thought, said and done. Furthermore, genuinely forgiving those who have hurt us can be equally difficult.

This process is facilitated by being honest with those who have hurt us, forgiving them, and working towards reconciliation, if possible. We can also apologise to those we have hurt, asking them to forgive us.

If those involved are no longer available, all this can still be done through honest prayer.

4. Emotional healing
Free-will, honesty and forgiveness help us to take responsibility for fostering the long-term healing God offers. We can do this by:

  • Being honest with ourselves, others and God
  • Developing insight into ourselves and our behaviour
  • Praying simply and honestly, as children do
  • Learning from experience
  • Learning from books
  • Learning from good role-models
  • Offering healthy, honest, equal, loving relationships to everyone

As we change and grow, we can slowly be healed in mind, heart and soul over the course of our lifetime. Gradually our thinking, speech and behaviour become more honest, more loving, and more genuinely aligned with God’s will for us, progressively promoting our emotional healing.

Conclusion
Through reflecting on the role of free-will, honesty and forgiveness in the process of emotional healing, I have come to see these four concepts as being essentially indivisible. Thus, as we freely choose to become more honest, more forgiving, and more Christ-like, we are slowly healed in mind, heart and soul.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).


References

1. Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will offerings of my mouth, O Lord (Psalm 119:108; WEB).

2. You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

3. Forgive us our sinsas we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT). 

4. I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT).

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NIV).

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

24.9.22: Selfhood

Context: Yesterday I woke promptly to get ready for my yearly visit to the Breast Cancer Clinic. It seems astonishing that it’s already four years since my mastectomy. As I wasn’t able to tolerate the side-effects of the various treatments I tried, these appointments are a significant opportunity to check for recurrence and spread.

Whilst I was praying just before getting up, I saw again, a little more clearly than the day before, that the concept of “selfhood” is illusory. By “selfhood” I mean the belief that we have a permanent, individual identity which is separate from God, and from everyone and everything else.

At most, the illusion of separateness lasts no longer than our brief exile on earth – less if we develop dementia. In dementia we lose the illusion of selfhood progressively, before our physical death, until only the body is left behind. Eventually, the body also dies, the soul having already become one with God who gave it. I find this realisation very comforting, as I have always dreaded dementia far more than any other illness.

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).


References 

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

20.9.22: The source of prayer

Context: Yesterday, I woke and began to pray, as usual. My list of people to pray for was at hand, but it is long, and I was weary of pushing myself to pray for each one in turn. So instead I just opened myself to being led in prayer.

Almost immediately, I received the first line of today’s blog, and wrote it down, then waited quietly, to see what would happen next. This is what I experienced:

The source of prayer is deep within. It comes from God, who lives in every soul (1).

God is our breath, our spirit, and our Saviour (2).

So I allowed God’s Spirit to guide my prayers (3). 

I prayed very simply for those who came to mind, feeling peaceful and unhurried (4).

To my considerable relief, no further insights arose from the dark depths of my unconscious mind. This meant I wouldn’t have to spend the day trying to express something that was difficult to put into words.

After praying for others until no more names appeared, I worshipped in silence until my prayer reached a comfortable, natural ending (5). 

It was bliss (6).


References 

1. You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

2. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT). 

I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:3; NLT). 

3. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-7; NRSV).

4. I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT). 

5. YHWH is in the Holy Temple: let all the earth be silent in God’s presence (Habakkuk 2:20; TIB). 

6. Thou makest me to know the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy, in Thy right hand bliss for evermore (Psalm 16:11; JPS Tanakh 1917).